Fans attending the Round Valley Invitational track and field shoot-out held March 16 in Eagar might have mistakenly believed they were watching a rerun of a past Class 3A East Region championship meet.
Regions and conferences have been done away with and replaced with divisions and sections, but the RV Invitational had a distinct retro feel because a pair of longtime rivals from past seasons battled for both the boys and girls titles.
Among the girls, the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets scored 104 points to edge perennial foe Snowflake for the crown. The Lobos finished with 101 points.
In the battle for the boys championship, Snowflake was first at 159 points. With 91.33, Blue Ridge was second.
While this year’s reconfiguration might have done away with conferences and regions, it hasn’t diminished the rivalries that once flourished in the now defunct 3A East.
For Payson, the Lady Longhorns were seventh among 14 teams, posting 47 points.
The boys took fifth at 49.7 points.
Payson Bobier turned in what might have been the Longhorns’ best effort, finishing first in Section 5 of the 400 meters. His time of 54.37 was the fastest in the six sections.
In the pole vault, Levi Sopeland and Keith Williams cleared 13 feet to be involved in a three-way tie for second.
The 4x400 relay team of Cameron Romance, Trevor Anderson, Bobier and Williams ran to gold in Section 1 in 3:45.91.
Romance also made it to the finals of the 100 meters, finishing sixth in 11.93.
For the Lady Longhorns, the 4x400 relay team comprised of Harley Turney, Jaymi Carlen, Bailey Patterson and Beth Sprinkle was first in Section 1 in 4:37.25.
Janelle Hauptman and Carlen were involved in a three-way tie for fifth in the pole vault with identical efforts of 7 feet, 6 inches.
In the 4x800 relay, Lydia Galster, Natalie Moceri, Ashley Spear and McKyla McCray ran to third with a clocking of 11:38.11.
Sprinkle was fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (18.31) and Patterson was sixth in the long jump (14 feet). With a leap of 30 feet, 2.25 inches, Carlen was fifth in the triple jump.
In flight 2 of the shot put, Alix Parker threw 26 feet, 10 inches to take second.
Both Payson High teams return to action March 23 and 24 in the 72nd Annual Chandler Rotary Invitational which is considered one of the most prestigious meets in the western U.S. Originally held in Wickenburg, it is also the second oldest meet in the state and today draws 3,000 athletes and an equal number of spectators.
Also this year, the meet will include a celebration of the City of Chandler’s 100th birthday.
The meet has long been a stage for some of Payson’s best track and field members to showcase their skills against the finest athletes from a four-state area.
Bo Althoff, Nicole Engstrom, Lura Goldman, Jon Gunzel, Mark Hochstetler, Tim Ryden, Darren Reid and Todd Reid are among those who have shined on the Chandler stage.